Minimalism: Organizing for Your Lifestyle

 

I received a copy of Organizing for Your Lifestyle in exchange for my honest review. 

Over the past few months, my travel has taught me that minimalism has benefits that extend beyond your own home. I’ve been traveling with three bags since May of this year, and I packed them all with minimalism in mind.

I have one bag for clothes, one for my health essentials (shampoo, conditioner, skincare, vitamins, etc.), and one for my electronics and school essentials. Three bags has been a manageable amount to carry as one person, and they fit all of my essentials for my everyday life.

My three journey bags

Before I left on my summer trips, I read Organizing for Your Lifestyle by Jane Stoller for packing inspiration. This was an amazing read that gave me ideas for both my home/dorm organization and for minimalist packing!

One of the challenges this summer was packing for both cold and warm weather in one bag. It was winter in Chile, and very much summer in Costa Rica. At first I was at a loss for how to pack for these two conditions, but Organizing for Your Lifestyle had wardrobe tips to help minimize what you carry and maximize your options.

Layered outfits!

I was packing for both professional and casual settings, which can definitely be challenging with limited space. However, I learned that packing layers provided many opportunities for mixing and matching. You can see what I ended up packing for my summer journey here!

I have been embracing a minimalist lifestyle since the summer of 2016, and have refined it to suit my lifestyle. As I have mentioned in previous posts, minimalism is about owning only what you use often—not about owning as few items as possible. I’ve found that eliminating excess from my life has allowed me to eliminate emotional weight and to feel more carefree.

Jane Stoller wrote about her own experience with minimalism, in a piece that emphasizes it’s unique embodiment in everyone:

 

My Minimalist Lifestyle by Jane Stoller

The Japanese have long been the experts on knowing how to have a minimalist dwelling, and Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2014) is a gem for people who want to move toward a less cluttered lifestyle. Kondo places a lot of emphasis on keeping only items that give you joy, and getting rid of everything else. In her book, Kondo argues that it’s important to create a space in your heart for the things that really matter to you, and that it’s important to give thanks for these things—even literally, by talking to the items in your home. This might sound a bit “airy fairy” to some, but I found that Kondo’s insights helped me to really appreciate what I have, while reminding me not to accumulate stuff I don’t need. Kondo also warns against organizing too much, as this can actually create additional things, and additional clutter.

One particularly valuable trick I learned from Kondo was to never keep all the extra buttons you get with the clothes you buy. I used to be very proud of my button collection, which was, of course, meticulously organized. However, I never used even one of the buttons; when I did lose a button, I would usually go to a tailor, and he would put on a new button that matched. But my button collection just kept growing. When I do feel it’s important to keep a button—from an expensive or unique coat or blazer, for example—I sew it on the inside.

De-clutter your space and your life by embracing minimalism. Personally, I don’t take this one to the extreme, but I do try. I recently read a book written by Francine Jay, who describes herself as Miss Minimalist. After reading Jay’s book, I think she’s earned the title. Jay gives simple strategies on how to begin to live a minimalist lifestyle. My favourite idea from Jay’s book involves downsizing by one thing each day, either by donating it, selling it, tossing it, re-gifting, etc. If you do this, by the end of the year, you’ll have de-cluttered an awe-inspiring 365 items. Jay’s minimalist style might be a bit extreme for some; case in point, she states that black is her staple wardrobe colour, and claims she only has 6 pairs of shoes. But her passionate discussion of her process, and her claims about how much lighter she feels after having made the switch to minimalism, may just be enough to convince you to follow her example. The opening of the book is a letter to her “stuff” which, although comical, really compels you to evaluate why our stuff is so important to us. You might even find it a useful exercise to try and write a similar letter to your own stuff. After all, if you can’t explain the benefits of an item to the item itself, it probably needs to go.

To get you started, here are a few things you can get rid of to live a more minimalist lifestyle: books (they take up so much space!), expired toiletries and products you never use, clothes that don’t fit or that you haven’t worn in years, and of course, those extra buttons.

 

I highly recommend Organizing for Your Lifestyle if you are interested in learning how to embrace a minimalism that helps you get rid of clutter and embrace a more organized lifestyle! You can purchase it from a number of stores, including Amazon!

I am preparing to go abroad again, this time for an entire semester. I am going to implement the same techniques to pack for this journey, and I will post about the final result! J How have you embraced minimalism in your life? Do you have any minimalist travel tips? Share them in the comments below!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Minimalist Spending Tips for College Grads

During college it’s easy to get used to dorm or apartment living where the furniture and other necessities are already provided for you. Even though I have yet to graduate from college, I found myself starting to think about the investments that I am going to make and how to save for them ahead of time.

One of the common misconceptions of minimalism is that it means owning the least amount of materials possible. In reality, it simply means consuming with intention. In this way, you have to think through each purchase that you are considering in order to determine how much you would use this item on a daily basis. Since minimizing my life, all of the items that I have in my dorm room are things that I use consistently on a daily basis. Everything has a purpose, and everything is being used regularly.

I want to continue this lifestyle once I graduate from college, as it has been refreshing and rejuvenating to have only what I need for day-to-day life. In thinking about what I want to invest in once I leave college, I came up with a list of items that I think would be important to research and invest in for an apartment or living space post-graduation. When researching items to invest in, one of my main considerations was purchasing something that would last for a long time and be of high quality.

As someone who loves quality sleep (because in college quantity can often be lacking…), investing in a mattress is one of my primary considerations. This is something that very few people think about until moving in to a new space, but doing research beforehand is definitely worth it! I personally like really soft and supportive mattresses for my sore muscles at the end of my long college days. Casper mattresses come in all sizes and they even get shipped to your door! They also have sheets and pillows so you only have to shop in one place for everything. They are space-saving mattresses with a convenient, and there is only one model so you don’t have to do extensive research to figure out which mattress to buy! They combine softness and support, which is perfect for many different preferences. They even have dog mattresses, which is perfect for a dog-lover like me!

Another worthwhile investment, both monetarily and time-wise, is an indoor herb garden or herb jars. As someone who is passionate about plant-based living, fresh ingredients, and cooking, having fresh herbs to reach for many recipes would be well worth the effort. They make your space look bright and fresh, and also make fresh ingredients readily available and inexpensive! Along these lines, investing in cookware and environmentally friendly food storage is also very important. I know that I will want to invest in environmentally friendly cookware that has many functions, having the fewest number of high-quality cookware items as possible. Ecolution and other brands have different lines that allow you to pick and choose what you will use the most (for me it’s soup pots and sauté pans). This will give you reliable cookware that will last, and serve many purposes.

Dishware, bakeware (measuring cups, etc.) and spices are also worthwhile investments. I like to think about what I do every day (sleep, cook, work, and exercise) and base my purchases off of this. I’ve always wanted to have a small space, but have it encompass all of my favorite things within easy reach. I also like to support smaller businesses (especially for spices and cooking oils), and the products are very high-quality!

I hope that these suggestions help to get you thinking and budgeting for what you want to invest in post-graduation! Do you have any minimalist spending tips or favorite investments that you have made? Share them in the comments below!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

*This is not a sponsored post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own 🙂 

 

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My Minimalist College Dorm Room Tour

This weekend I felt inspired to film a casual vlog showing you around my college dorm room, and how I have incorporated minimalism into my daily life. This was the first casual vlog that I have ever filmed, and it ended up being 46 minutes long! I always wondered how people made such long YouTube videos, but now I completely understand!

I hope that you enjoy this more casual look into my daily life, and I would love to hear what you have been up to lately! Leave a comment below! 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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Being a Minimalist in College

I’ve started many new endeavors this year, but the most rewarding one thus far has been my journey in minimalism. Even though I have only been back at school for a few weeks, the positive changes that have manifested as a result of this lifestyle change have led me to inadvertently embrace all of my initial goals. Over my winter break I thought about how I could implement minimalism into my life as a college student, and when I returned to campus knew right where to start! Beginning is the hardest part, but the rest naturally follows!

So you may be wondering how I even approached going through all of my belongings in my room. I took to YouTube and Pinterest for inspiration from other minimalists, especially regarding what criteria they used to go through what they owned. Even though “minimalism” might suggest living with as few material items as you can, the essence of the lifestyle is quite different. Instead of living with as few items as possible, the goal is to own only items that bring value to your daily life.

As I looked around my room, I thought about all of the things that I use on a daily basis, and then started at my desk to go through what no longer served me at this point in my life. One of the elements of minimalism that I love the most is its approach to minimizing: an item could have had value and meaning in your life, but no longer needs to. There were definitely things that I found myself holding on to “just in case,” but I was forgetting that everything is impermanent. Change is inevitable, and it is beautiful.

I sorted through drawers and tabletops, appreciating everything that no longer served me but also letting it go. I set everything gently into two large boxes, knowing that others will find meaning in these items as they travel on their own life journeys.

As I looked around the room I knew where everything was and how it fit into my life. It was then that I was able to think about what might add value to my life, if anything. After some reflection, I realized that I now felt as though there was now room (both physically and emotionally) to engage with one of my new interests: essential oils. These take up very little physical space, but contribute positively to my health and overall wellbeing.

Through this minimizing process I felt as though I was finally acknowledging that the person I was is no longer the person I am. Something that most minimalists have emphasized is the relationship between what we own and who we are. In everything that we own we invest some of who we are. Similar to our music tastes, what we own can tell its own story about who we are. And who we are is subject to change. Minimalism highlights the relationship between the self and our surroundings, and suggests that our possessions need not remain permanent.

As soon as I felt comfortable shaping my surroundings to my true self, the rest fell into place. Where there was once makeup lies essential oils; books that I loved are now destined to be enjoyed by others.

My room has become an even clearer representation of who I am. Before it was simply my room. Now it is my sanctuary.

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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My New Life Journey: Why I Stopped Wearing Makeup

Today’s post is one of the most personal posts that I have written on my blog, but it is something that I’ve wanted to write about for a while (especially with my new interests this year, and with my experiences). I am only writing about my own experiences, and in no way want to promote one way of living over another. My personal journey with makeup has spanned many perspectives, and I think they were all valuable for me during each phase of my life thus far. 🙂 My taste and interest in makeup has been something that has changed alongside me, and I wanted to write about that journey since I am embarking on a new one this year.

I started wearing makeup during my junior year of high school. I had problem skin for most of my early teen years, but only started to grow self-conscious about it when I was about sixteen years old. I didn’t know the first place to start with makeup, but I was constantly feeling uncomfortable about my appearance. Part of me wanted to start my journey into makeup to boost my confidence, but part of me wanted to feel as though I didn’t need makeup to feel confident in myself. I started looking online for inspiration, and found makeup tips from articles on Pinterest and YouTube tutorials.

I started my journey with very minimal and basic makeup, and learned from trial and error about what best suited my skin. Over the years I discovered that I have quite sensitive skin, which eliminated wearing foundation and other higher coverage concealers as options. I started to straighten my hair and wear more makeup over time, trying new products until I finally reached a point where I knew what worked best for my skin.

When I entered the world of blogging, I started to learn more about different products and brands. Makeup shifted from being something I did to gain more confidence to something I enjoyed for myself. I loved learning about new makeup techniques and products, and trying them out for myself. It became a hobby of mine, especially in college where I was able to learn how to create more professional and everyday looks. When I started on my vegan journey during my second semester, I began to think about looking into cruelty-free makeup brands. This created a new shift in how I related to makeup, and I started to prefer more natural looks with products that contained natural ingredients. I learned more about what products I liked to use (I did an E.L.F. and ULTA haul a few months ago 🙂 ), and my interest in makeup and skincare grew.

My time in college has caused many a breakout, which I initially thought was due to stress (and I am sure that stress was definitely a factor), but I discovered that on the days I didn’t wear makeup (often weekends), my skin would be a lot less temperamental. I also found that I was slowly going back to being less confident in myself. When I looked in the mirror with no makeup on, all I thought was “wow I look exhausted, I need to fix that”. But my way of fixing it was to cover it up instead of get at the root of what was causing my skin woes.

Once I started winter break, I didn’t wear makeup as often. I started to see improvements in my skin, and felt less like I needed makeup to look more awake and energized. It was then that I started to realize that wearing makeup was allowing me to create a temporary solution to the root of a lot of my skin problems. I had also developed so much as a person over the course of my time in college that I felt more confident in my direction and in my interests. I no longer felt as though I needed makeup to gain confidence, but I did feel as though I needed it to feel and look more awake and present. This shift in mentality coincided with a shift in interest away from makeup and towards skincare. Taking care of my skin started to be more of a priority (and as some of you may know, I started to become a bit obsessed with face masks after a long day 🙂 ). I found that as I focused more on my hydration, nutrition, and skincare, I didn’t feel as though I needed makeup to feel more present.

My interest in minimalism and more natural living over the past few months also contributed to this shift, and I decided at the beginning of this year to officially go without makeup. I’ll be honest, at first it was a bit difficult to feel as confident on a daily basis because I felt as though I was missing a part of my routine. When I looked in the mirror, it was surprising sometimes to see my reflection. But as the days went on, I started to be truly comfortable in my own skin yet again. I became more focused on my skincare routine and making sure that I was staying as healthy as possible. As the days went on it became even easier to let go of cosmetics. There hasn’t yet been a time when I felt as though I would be happier if I were wearing makeup.

My interests have always shifted alongside my life changes, and makeup has been one of those interests. Though I am no longer interested in it for my current path, I think it is absolutely wonderful when people are. There was definitely a time when it added so much to my own happiness and became a hobby of mine that I loved investing time in, and I love watching other people feel the same way. I wanted to write this post as a way of revisiting how my life has changed, and how my interest in makeup has changed with it. A year ago, or even a few months ago, the decision to not wear makeup wouldn’t have been one that matched my lifestyle.

I think it’s really important to live with intention, and to do everything that you do with love and passion. I have been reading about intentionality quite a bit recently, and being able to love everything that you do is such an amazing feeling. I think that it’s natural to have shifting interests in life, and they are all valuable to who we are in the moment that we are living them.

I’m embracing this new year with new visions, but still remember fondly the interests that I have left behind. I hope that you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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2017 Travel: The Solo Urban Code Bag

I would like to thank Solo for sponsoring this post, and thank you for supporting the brands that make The Wise Willow possible! All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

This year is already going by so fast! The months just seem to go by faster and faster, and before I know it I will be back to start another semester. This week I will be traveling for vacation before the new semester starts, and finding a bag that is perfect for travel can be difficult. Now that I am embracing a minimalist lifestyle, I was looking for a bag that would support my college and professional lifestyle.

I found the Urban Code Endeavor backpack while searching for such a bag, and knew that it would be perfect for my goals this year. I will be traveling more often, and going between work and classes during my everyday hustle. I bring my laptop with me everywhere I go, as well as charger cords, headphones, course materials, and vegan goodies.

Photo by The Wise Willow

The Urban Code Endeavor bag fits laptops up to 15.6″, which is perfect for me since I have a 13″ computer. It has a variety of pockets, which is what I love about it (because I love to have my cords, writing utensils, and snacks in separate places). The bag is made out of high-quality material, which is perfect for someone like me who may or may not carry around a bit too much on a daily basis. The zippers are sturdy, and there is a key chain hook on the front for displaying your favorite accessories. As a minimalist, I am looking to have multipurpose belongings that will travel with me wherever I end up going. And this bag does just that! It’s perfectly sized for the airport, and it’s front-facing pockets make taking liquids and other items out easy (especially for those stressful security lines).

One of the best features of the bag is its back and shoulder padding. I’m someone who gets muscle tension quite easily, and having a bag with great support helps to alleviate tension headaches and back pain from what I usually carry around on a daily basis (or long days of travel).

Photo by The Wise Willow

The look of the bag is perfect for anyone, and matches any outfit. I’m not generally a fashionable person (as people who know me well would say, I quite like to be tacky). However, this bag is stylish and matches even my craziest outfit combinations.

The bag has a five-year warranty, and is designed for city living. I plan on using it for all of my daily excursions and travel adventures! If you would like to learn more about the bag, click here! There are also many other styles to choose from, so you will definitely find something that suits your lifestyle!

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

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2017: The Year of Aligning with my True Self

A New Year is here! And with it many inspirations from the past year. 2016 was a whirlwind year for me, and brought significant change for me personally, academically, and experientially. I learned more than I ever thought I could, and I found the directions I want to go in this year*.

At the beginning of 2016 I was still a first year in college, experiencing health problems and struggling emotionally (this was when I wrote many of my posts about rising above struggle, and letting go of expectations). I leaped out of my comfort zone as a result, and my entire life changed before my eyes. I became a more outgoing person with new goals and experiences, a new holistic community, and a focus on wellness. I transitioned to a vegan diet, and entered the summer with a new outlook.

Over the summer I lived on my own, worked forty hours a week, and learned many things about being in the adult world. I returned to college with a greater sense of self, and a comfort with navigating the real world as an adult. I turned 20 in September, and entered a new decade of my life.

In August, before I started my second year, I got a nose piercing to symbolize this new decade. This was a huge leap for me, and I am so glad that I took that step. It has become a large part of my identity this year, and I’ve never looked back.

As I enter this new year, more experiences lie ahead of me. With it comes more change, but change is something I’m no longer afraid of. In fact, I welcome it. Change allows me to grow, and to have experiences that lead to new interests and passions.

As I go into the new year, I have new visions for where my life is leading me. As I mentioned my previous post, I hope to begin a journey in minimalism this year. Now that I have focused on what fuels my body, I have become more aware of what fuels my soul. I have had an interest in minimalism for a while, and the documentary Minimalism (available on Netflix, and I highly recommend it!) reinforced my interest. With this I also hope to start living a zero waste lifestyle. Making my own products (toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc.) will save me a lot of money (which is important for my college student budget) and make using vegan products easier. I have also noticed that my body has become more sensitive to products now that I am vegan, so natural skincare and haircare makes complete sense.

I hope to reduce my coffee cup waste, skincare waste, and other products. I have been doing research about the steps that I can take as a college student to reduce my waste, and have found a number of sustainable options that are worth investing in. For example, dryer sheets are something that add a lot of waste and toxins to the environment. There are alternatives (even vegan ones) such as bamboo dryer balls. These are reusable and contain essential oils! There are also reusable produce bags (to eliminate plastic bag waste), reusable cotton rounds for skincare use, and natural alternatives to sponges for dish washing. I also hope to reduce my plastic use (by using a bamboo toothbrush and metal containers). While this will be a gradual process, it feels like a natural extension of my life journey with plant-based foods and vegan makeup.

Another journey that I am hoping to begin is that of no makeup. I started wearing makeup during my junior year of high school to boost my body confidence. I continued wearing makeup ever since, mostly to make myself look more awake now that I am in college. However, my acne has started to reappear and my makeup use may be contributing. Now that my body is more sensitive to chemicals, I have adverse reactions to products I didn’t used to react to. I have become a lot more confident in how I look without makeup, and thought that it would be a good time to start this journey. Not only would it be better for my skin, it would save me money and time. Instead of makeup, I am going to invest in natural skincare (coconut oil, etc.) to keep my skin healthy and to eliminate chemicals.

This is a lot to tackle in one year, but natural living has been something I have wanted to pursue for years now. Ever since I started watching Raw Alignment on YouTube, living a natural lifestyle has become more realistic for me. I can’t wait to share these new journeys with you, and to keep having life-changing adventures! As always, feel free to message me if you’re also interested in these lifestyle changes! I would love to collaborate and learn from your experiences!

What are you hoping to achieve in 2017?

©2017 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

*Instead of resolutions I love to find what has worked for me to continue or expand upon in the upcoming year, and move on from what didn’t work.

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Embarking on my Minimalist Journey

When 2016 was beginning, I had no idea that I was going to be transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and starting the process of living a more natural and balanced life. It was quite a journey (in fact, the beginning of 2016 feels like forever ago) and I am yet again ready to begin another journey that will lead me to be more aligned with my true self.

When I went to college, I did what most college students do: look online for lists of what I needed to bring with me. I went out and bought all that I ‘needed,’ and I can vouch for how heavy my boxes and bags were when I was bringing them to my first-year room! I had things that I was going to maybe need, and since I was just about to start living on my own I thought I needed to be prepared for everything. As the year progressed, I used about one third of all that I brought. Realizing this, over the summer I made an effort to significantly reduce what I was bringing, and I learned through experience. I reduced everything to the minimal amount possible, and was able to unpack and decorate in record time. Not only that, my room felt like a sanctuary from the start and I knew where everything was.

As this past semester came to a close, I had a wonderful experience with ThredUp. When I realized the practicality on a multitude of measures of investing in secondhand clothes, I know that I will never go back. I was able to purchase clothes I was interested in, and go through my closet and my dresser to figure out what I no longer needed. I sent a full bag of clothes back to ThredUp, and now have an aspiration to clean out every time I invest in new clothing.

Now that I have had time to think about where I want my life (and my blog) to go in 2017, the concept of minimalism resonated with me and my values. As many of you probably know, I have always tried to live by the mantra: live simply so that others may simply live. I’m in a unique position of being in college and not having many personal possessions, which to me is a wonderful place to start. I made sure to go through my belongings before starting my first year of college, and have generally been pretty aware of my consumption. That being said, I was able to donate quite a bit of items at the end of my first year and at the end of last semester. Every time I cleaned out my items, I felt physically lighter knowing that those items would be put to better use. I also started reading from the local library or on an e-reader to save money and space, because my love for reading often leads to clutter (and I am one of those people who only reads books once, unless they’re amazing which has definitely happened!).

But as I look at what I own, there are a lot of things that I could live without. As I have been doing some research about minimalism, I realize that many people have gone quite a few years out of college and into adult life before considering this path. Since I already went through that process, I feel as though I can start actively living a minimalist lifestyle and focusing on being present in what truly matters.

Yesterday I watched a documentary on Netflix called Minimalism, and it further confirmed my interest in this lifestyle. It was extremely well produced, and I now follow The Minimalists on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to their podcasts online. I have found several other resources as well that have helped me start this journey, and if you have any suggestions for other resources I would love to hear them! Experiences like this are really about learning together, so I would love to hear what your experiences have been, what interests you about minimalism, and what your journey has been! Let me know in the comments or send an email to thewisewillowblog@gmail.com!

For the New Year I hope to start a series on this blog devoted to minimalist living (especially being a minimalist in college), and share the resources that I have found with you if you are also interested in this lifestyle!

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Blogmas Day 2: My Experience with ThredUp

blogmas-day-twoLast weekend I found myself on Pinterest, as I often do, and came across a pin about ThredUp. I had seen pins about this company before, but had never ventured to the site to see it for myself. So on a chilly winter evening I found myself relaxing and perusing the site with no idea what I would find. What I found was simply amazing.

I started by looking in the Juniors section of the website, which has an extensive selection of tops, jeans, dresses, sweaters, and more. I am always hesitant when buying clothes online (since I never know how they are going to fit or how they are going to look), but I decided to take the plunge.

Recently I have been shifting to a minimalist lifestyle, and one of those aspects is recycling clothes and only owning what I use on a regular basis. As I was looking on the site, I perused the clothes, checked sizes, and browsed their ‘basement’ section for clothes that are a little more worn.

I ended up picking out six items of clothing: a pink dress with a lace pattern (that I am going to wear to my Winter Waltz this Saturday!), two pairs of overall shorts (I have seen these on Pinterest for years and finally took the plunge and bought some! I have been loving them so far!), a t shirt with a quote from The Fault in Our Stars, a grey patterned sweater (which is super warm), and a floral lace skirt.

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The adorable packaging!

The box arrived in the mail a few days later, and I brought it back to my dorm room in excited anticipation. As I opened it, I was greeted with colorful tissue paper and the cutest sticker to top it off! I took the clothes out of the tissue paper, and to my surprise there were adorable tags on each item of clothing which would make them perfect gifts! (Or in my case, perfect gifts to myself haha!).

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The beautiful lace design

Let’s start with the dress. I am drawn to pink lace dresses (I have a lovely one from Maurices that I wore under my high school graduation gown), and as soon as I saw this one I knew I wanted to give it a try. It’s even more beautiful in person! It is a darker pink color than my other one, making it a good winter dress to pair with leggings, boots, and a cardigan for extra warmth. It fits perfectly and looks brand new! I’m excited to wear it to my Winter Waltz dance this Saturday!

So excited to finally own overalls!
So excited to finally own overalls!

Now to the overalls: I have always wanted at least one pair for the longest time (take a look at my Fashion and Style board on Pinterest and you will see this fact) and found two pairs that I wanted to give a try! The first is a lighter washed out denim, with the full overall style. These fit perfectly, and aren’t hard to take on and off. I tried them on with leggings underneath, black booties, and both a short sleeve shirt and a warmer sweater. I loved all of the combinations!

I love both styles!
I love both styles!

The second pair I got have a darker denim wash with buttons in the front, and just the straps instead of the full front piece. These fit perfectly too, and are great with leggings and a short sleeve shirt! I am very happy that I now have two pairs to call my own, especially since I’ve been pinning countless overall fashion combinations on Pinterest for years!

This is my current favorite sweater!
This is my current favorite sweater!

 

 

The sweater I got (which I am currently wearing because it is very soft and great for staying warm!) is a light grey with a woven design. The sleeves are a shorter style, and more loose than most sweaters I own. It is perfect for work attire when paired with black work pants and boots, but can also be made more casual with patterned leggings. It fits perfectly and is my favorite sweater that I own at the moment!

I love the pattern and design!
I love the pattern and design!

I don’t usually wear skirts, but this one managed to catch my eye. It is a floral lace pattern with lots of ruffles, and is perfect for dressier outfits (and it wears quite well with the grey sweater)! This also fits perfectly, and is very comfortable and in great condition.

Finally, the shirt I bought has one of my favorite quotes on it: “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations” (The Fault in Our Stars by John Green). It was in the ‘basement’ section of the site, and was only $2.50!

"My thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations"
“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations”

One of the things I haven’t mentioned thus far is how reasonable this purchase was. ThredUp had a 40% off sale for the holidays, and as such I paid $25 for all six items of clothing (including shipping)! I couldn’t be happier with my purchase, and I know that I will never buy clothes anywhere else.

The Clean-Out kit
The Clean-Out kit

In addition, I found that I had some clothes in my closet and drawers that I hadn’t worn all semester. I knew that they would be better in someone else’s hands, so I requested a free Clean-Out kit from ThredUp. I received the kit today, which includes a postage paid bag to put the clothes in. After filling the bag with clothing, you simply seal it, mail it off, and can opt to donate the clothes or receive credit (store credit or PayPal credit)! I feel so much better that I am actually wearing the clothes I own, and I know that someone else might find something they love in the clothes I sent back just like I found clothes I loved from what others sent in!

The tags that came with each piece!
The tags that came with each piece!

I highly recommend ThredUp to anyone looking for new clothes for amazing prices and quality! I hope that you enjoyed hearing about my experience, and let me know if you end up buying clothing items from them! Tag me on Twitter or Instagram with your OOTDs!

If you do want to purchase from the site, you can use the following link and you’ll get $10 off!

©2016 The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

This post is not sponsored, and all thoughts are my own.

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Living Simply and Simply Living

Living Simply,-2Now that I am living on my own, I have been reflecting on my desires for my future. There are countless people who have inspired me with their journeys in life, and I am especially inspired by those who lead simple lives. Their lives are full of experiences and relationships rather than materials and money. I can see the true happiness in their eyes, and feel a deep connection with this style of living.

flowers-871685_640Over the course of my own life, technology has become central to daily living. When I was younger, the most that we had was a VCR player and Nintendo 64. These are a stark contrast to the smartphones and video streaming corporations that are prevalent today. As I thought back to my past, I realized that true happiness was easier to come by. I ran around in the dirt and let my imagination run wild. I connected with my friends rather than staring at my social media accounts, making real connections rather than virtual ones.

As I see people return to what may be called the ‘good ol’ days,’ I feel compelled to join them. I can remember the moments in which I have felt bursts of pure happiness and joy, and all of them involved spontaneous connection and courage. One of these moments occurred on our first family trip abroad in 2012. I was a freshman in high school, and we were visiting the British Museum. We decided to go to the food court for lunch, and sat down to eat at the ends of one of the tables. As my mom brushed off the crumbs with a napkin before sitting down, the woman in the chair next to her said “you must not be English”. This sparked a wonderful and hilarious conversation that lasted for two hours, and left an impression that has outlived all of the moments in which I saw the world through my smartphone camera.

cinque-terre-828614_640I yearn to experience this world in this way. When I visited Italy, the stark contrast in lifestyle made me pause and reflect. The streets were filled with families, the restaurants were filled with friendly chatter, and the smiles were infectious. This is what it is like to simply live, I thought. Ever since that day, the excess at which many people tend to live never appealed to me. My desires for life are to follow my passions, foster meaningful relationships, and to help others.

I declared my undergraduate major last week, and have never felt more in sync with my true self. I am now an official Religious Studies major, and could not be happier. I wake up every day with a sense of profound joy, for I am following my passion. I want to become an engaged global citizen and have the world be my home. Traveling from place to place, and meeting people from all walks of life. I want to return to when happiness was composed of relationships and experiences, and I want to simply live.

Donating to organizations has always brought me true joy. For my birthday I have loved choosing organizations to donate to, for I feel as though I am making a tangible difference. One of the organizations I am going to add to my list this year is Kiva loans. This organization allows you to donate or lend money in the form of microfinance loans to people around the world who are working to escape from cycles of poverty. I have had such a positive experience when making these loans, and I know that I am helping someone follow their dreams and passions.

I also desire to eat simply. To buy fresh foods, eat communally, and reflect on animal and environmental welfare. To bring back sustainable and humane practices would help many global communities, and I aspire to work towards this goal. To end cruelty, both to animals and people, is one of my top priorities. And to take care of my body to the best of my ability will allow me to live to the fullest.

As I think about my next steps in life, I thought I would share my thoughts with you. The future is exciting and holds many wonderful opportunities, and I am excited to embark on this  journey of following my passion. I’m excited to live simply and simply live. 🙂

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Here are a few of the people who have inspired me with their adventures and their pursuits of happiness:

Louis Cole (FunForLouis)

Raya Encheva (RayaWasHere)

Ben Brown

Nicole Eddy

Kent Heckel

Donal Skehan

© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella. All rights reserved.

 

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Alyssa DeBella

21 | Lifestyle blogger | Minimalist | Dreamer ✨| Language Lover 💕| Animal Obsessed ❤️🐶| Double Major 📚| Vegan 🌱 |Traveler ✈️ (currently in: Europe)
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